patch of pumpkins

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What really sends shivers down my spine has nothing to do with haunted houses or spooky skeletons…

It’s overspending.

Halloween marks the unofficial start to the season of spending. And between the devilish decor, creepy costumes, candy, candy and more candy, you could find yourself in a downward spiral toward a busted budget before saying “boo.” The real witching hour? When that credit card bill is due. Ugh.

So, how much are American consumers really spending on Halloween? Turns out, the overall price of fright isn’t exactly frugal.

The price of fright

We crunched the numbers out there from some of our favorite spooky stores—Target, Party City, Amazon, Kmart, Spirit Halloween Store and Halloween Express—to determine exactly what the price of fright is this year in comparison to 2016.

In 2016, Halloween cost consumers an average of $155.59. This year, Halloween will cost shoppers an average of $155.96, which is just 37 cents more than last year.

Here’s how specific, spine-chilling categories shaped up in our price index:

Candy: Sweet savings this year

Tend to go a little crazy in the candy aisle? That could be detrimental to your budget. The good news is, all those sweet treats are a little less expensive this year.

For our price index, we took a look at the cost of two Hershey’s miniatures party bags across a variety of popular retailers, and found that in 2016, the candy cost consumers an average of $22.08. This year, it’ll cost shoppers on average $19.51, which is actually some pretty sweet savings!

After looking at candy from Amazon, Kmart, Target, Walmart, Peapod and Publix, we found the cheapest candy at Amazon: Two bags of 40 oz. Hershey’s miniatures were priced at $9.44 each, totaling $18.07.

Skeletons: Great for the bare-bones budgeter

Spending on skeletons this year isn’t too spooky! These poseable plastic pals perfect for Pinteresting saw a price decrease from last year—down to an average of $59.27. We found the most affordable skeleton at Kmart, priced at $39.99.

Pumpkins: Plump prices

Pumpkins are pretty popular this time of year, and per pound, the prices are plump.

We looked at the average price of weighted pumpkins from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and found that it increased 0.7 percent from last year. In 2016, the average weighted price per pumpkin was $4.29, while this year it’s $4.32. That 3-cent increase might not seem like a lot, but between 2015 and 2016 we saw a steep decrease in average price, from $4.78 to $4.29—a 10.3-percent decrease! Looks like pumpkins are getting pricey again.

Costumes: Expect your costs to creep higher

If dressing up your little one for Halloween is feeling more like a trick than a treat because of the price tag, you’re not alone. Last year, on average, kids’ costumes at a number of popular retailers were on average $33.44. This year, they are very similar, priced at an average of $33.79.

Even if you’re not taking a child trick-or-treating this year, adult costume contests are in full swing. However, prices may set you back quite a bit. An adult witch costume (which is the most popular Halloween costume for 2017, according to the National Retail Federation), is currently priced at $39.99 at Spirit Halloween.

2017 Price of Fright Index infographic

Lantern: Holding a candle to last year

Prices of lanterns this year might be lit, but they’re pretty similar to the average price in 2016! Last year, the average price of a decorative lantern was $17.38, and this year, that price increased just slightly to $17.59. For the most affordable lanterns in our list of stores, check out Party City—they’re just $6!

(Fake) tombstones: Here lies your Halloween budget

In 2016, consumers spent an average of $16.80 on decorative tombstones. This year, consumers can expect to spend an average of $21.48, over $4 more. Yikes! The most affordable tombstone from our list of stores can be found at Party City, for just $9.99.

Cut down on those creepy costs

Don’t let all those costs creep up on you! Instead, grab your boos and try these fun, festive (and frightening!) ways to cut down your spending during this spooky season.

DIY your décor and costumes!

Costumes are clearly where the crazy costs are at. You’ll likely be wearing this costume one time, so it’s not smart to spend all your savings on it. Instead, take a DIY approach! If you need some inspo, scour Pinterest or check out these creative costumes you can make on the cheap.

Same goes for décor! You can make some super simple decorations with supplies you have around the house, like these adorable ghost candles and yarn spider webs.

Shop all the ~spooky~ sales

Halloween costumes are heavily discounted right after the holiday, but if you didn’t stock up on this year’s costume quite yet, don’t wait any longer! Procrastinators will quite literally pay the price.

With Halloween a few weeks away, there are currently a few good steals out there. Here are a few deals you can shop RN:

  • BuyCostumes.com: Offering 20 percent off with code GO20
  • Spirit Halloween: Offering $50 off orders over $200, $30 off orders over $150, $20 off orders over $100, and $10 off orders over $65 with the code 50SAVE
  • Target: Offering $2 off when you buy two select bagged candy items 14 ounces or larger

And, don’t forget to use a rewards credit card to maximize your money this Halloween season!

Scare yourself for less

Haunted houses and hayrides are all fun and games… until you see the admission fees. Instead, get in the Halloween spirit with a scary movie marathon! Get your spooky squad together, and have everyone bring one festive treat, whether it’s pumpkin beer or candy corn. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime are streaming scary movies this month (my recommendation? “The Babadook!”), so you’re set! For an added thrill, bust out the Ouija board.

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Methodology: In determining the index, Halloween items in six categories were examined based on the price of the items as compared to last year; either with the price going up, down, or remaining the same. In the event that an item could not be found that was on last year’s index, it was substituted for a similar item. The prices for the items in each category were then averaged to determine the average cost for the particular category. To determine the change in the index from last year, all of the average costs for each category were summed together to get a total. This total was then compared to last year’s total to determine the total change in both dollars and percentage.